Mixed martial arts is one of the most popular sports around. While the UFC remains the premier organization for the sport, there are hundreds of MMA promotions around the world, including:
- Bellator MMA
- ONE Championship
- World Series of Fighting
- Invicta FC
It is the ultimate contest of strength, pitting two seasoned athletes against each other, with the ultimate goal of inflicting enough harm to incapacitate your opponent.
However, because of this, it’s not surprising that there’s some risk involved. Here’s are the biggest risk factors in MMA.
1) Injuries during training. It’s not uncommon to hear about a fighter pulled from a match weeks before the fight due to injury. Rafael dos Anjos was famously forced to drop out of his UFC 196 fight against Conor McGregor due to a broken foot he suffered in training while Daniel Cormier dropped out of his UFC 198 bout against Jon Jones due to a leg injury he sustained while practice sparring.
2) In fact, oftentimes even when mixed martial artists show up to their fights, they’re not 100 percent, having experienced minor injuries during training. However, while the bulk of the injuries sustained are in the range of torn ACLs and broken ribs, some are much worse.
3) Takedowns gone wrong. While a cool takedown might be exciting for fans, they can be extremely dangerous for the athletes, as was the case for Steve Watts.
4) While attempting a takedown in the first round, Watts’ opponent Michael Hebenstreit wrapped him in a headlock and became paralyzed from the neck down due to the canvas impact.
5) Dangerous holds. While referees are on standby to intervene before damage is inflicted, they don’t always get there in time, making holds like the heel hook hold, which inflicts pain after the damage is done, especially dangerous.
6) Weight cutting. Perhaps one of the most hazardous practices in MMA is the act of weight cutting, causing a performer to try and shed as much weight as possible before a weigh in, while packing on as much back as possible before the actual fight.
7) It’s not uncommon for a fighter to dehydrate themselves before a fight. However, the practice can be deadly. In 2015, MMA fighter Yang Jian died due to complications from an extreme weight cut.
8) Concussions. While this one should be obvious, concussions are one of the most damaging things a fighter can experience. Fighter Joao Carvalho recently died following a match in Ireland due to complications from a concussion.